Have you ever wondered, "What happens to circumcised foreskins?" Well, you're not alone! Although many foreskins are discarded and disposed of, researchers have found ways to put foreskin to good use in the medical field. See, foreskin is full of fibroblasts, or cells that produce collagen. Collagen is a protein that holds connective tissue together - and it plays a big part in maintaining smooth, youthful-looking skin. You see where this is going, right?
There are a lot of uses for foreskin, but a lot of them involve beauty products. Eye creams, facial fillers - if it keeps your skin tight, you've probably got a circumcision to thank. But those fibroblasts do other useful things, too - they can help heal bedsores or build stem cells. Here are some facts about the surprising things circumcised foreskins are used for.
Stimulating Hair Growth
The basic function of neonatal fibroblasts (cells taken from infant foreskins after they are circumcised) is to keep things together and stimulate cell growth. Fibroblasts taken from any human create strong bonds, but fibroblasts taken from infants are much stronger - it's like comparing an Elmer's glue stick to Gorilla Glue. In 2012, a company called Histogen announced they had created an injectable hair growth stimulant from cells derived from neonatal foreskins - and it works.
Hair growth might seem less important than, say, life-saving skin grafts, but it's not just middle-aged dudes with male pattern baldness who can benefit from this: think about all the people with alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss in both men and women, whose lives could be drastically changed if they were able to regrow their hair.
Creating Stem Cells
If you follow medical news or are an avid viewer of South Park, you have probably heard of stem cells and their wide variety of benefits. Stem cells are used to treat and prevent certain medical conditions by replacing specific damaged cells. Scientists have found that foreskin cells can act as feeder cells to grow embryonic stem cells. Cells from mice have been used in the past to create these feeder cells, however, using cells from foreskin allows a xeno-free alternative. Xeno-free refers to the fact that no components of the culturing process are derived from animals.
As weird as it sounds, many people - including Oprah - are using facial creams made with human foreskin. These creams are said to improve the health and appearance of a person’s skin. Many of them claim to increase the firmness of skin while reducing wrinkles as well. The creams use fibroblasts derived from human foreskin following a baby’s circumcision. However, you won’t find the word “foreskin” listed in the ingredients - instead, companies use the term “Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media.” The more you know.
Restoring Aging or Damaged Skin
Many men and women seek out Botox injections to tighten up their skin and appear more youthful. But Botox has a number of side effects and the benefits don’t last forever. A new injection of foreskin-derived cells, which claims to be able to smooth wrinkles and even repair skin damage from scars, has it made to the trial stage. The injection works by regenerating deep layers of skin and increasing the amount of collagen in cells. The results are not immediate, but they are supposed to be permanent.